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Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Release # 038-06
Friday, May 26, 2006

CONTACT: (212) 788-5290; (212) 788-3058 (After Hours)
Sandra Mullin (smullin@health.nyc.gov); Andrew Tucker (atucker@health.nyc.gov)


DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND MENTAL HYGIENE DECLARES CITY’S PUBLIC BEACHES ARE SAFE FOR SWIMMING

NEW YORK CITY – May 26, 2006 – The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) today announced that all of the City's 20 public and permitted private beaches are safe for swimming, and – as announced earlier this week by Mayor Bloomberg – beaches will be open for the season beginning Saturday, May 27 at 10:00 A.M. DOHMH performs regular testing of the City’s beach water and inspects beaches to ensure compliance with local and state, and federal regulations that affect recreational swimming safety. Water quality test results will be posted online at nyc.gov/health/beach and updated regularly throughout the summer. DOHMH will issue beach advisories and closures as necessary. This information will also be available online or by calling 311.

Public beaches open for swimming include:

Bronx: Orchard Beach
Brooklyn: Brighton and Coney Island Beach, Manhattan Beach
Queens: Rockaway Beach
Staten Island: Midland Beach, South Beach, Wolfe's Pond Park

"New York City beaches are open and safe for swimming," said DOHMH Commissioner Dr. Thomas R. Frieden. "New Yorkers should be sure to enjoy the water only when lifeguards are on-duty, and to avoid diving in any place that it is not specifically permitted. Sometimes, water near our beaches can become contaminated, which may pose a health risk, especially for infants and toddlers, people over age 65, and those with underlying medical conditions. Check for beach closures and advisories by visiting our website at nyc.gov/health/beach or by calling 311."

DOHMH Beach Advisory System (see below for full descriptions)

OPENSwimming and bathing permitted
WET WEATHER ADVISORYAdvisory – Wet-weather conditions, swimming and bathing not recommended
ADVISORYAdvisory – Swimming and bathing not recommended
CLOSEDClosed. Swimming and bathing temporarily not permitted.

Wet Weather Advisory

Issued following a period of heavy rainfall, which could lead to sewer overflows and storm runoff (e.g., from streets and other properties). That in turn may lead to elevated levels of bacteria in some beach waters, which may pose a public health risk. Ingesting water with bacteria can lead to stomach illness. Infants and toddlers, people over 65, and people with underlying medical conditions are more likely to have severe illness that could occur if contaminated beach water is swallowed. DOHMH does not recommend swimming and bathing in any area impacted by a Wet Weather Advisory. Only certain beaches may be affected by a Wet Weather Advisory. For a complete list visit www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/beach/beach_adv.shtml#wetweather.

Advisory

Issued to notify the public against swimming and bathing when preliminary water quality assessment indicates that bacteria levels or other conditions may contribute to possible illness. DOHMH does not recommend swimming and bathing in areas identified as being impacted by an Advisory.

Closed

Beaches will be Closed if weather or environmental conditions warrant, and if there is a significant threat to public health. City beaches may be classified as Closed when one or a combination of any of the following conditions exists:

  • Confirmed samples show that enterococci (bacteria) levels in beach waters exceed recommended water standards.
  • Test results indicate a significant incidence of related illnesses or repeated complaints/reports of illness/injury received from beach patrons.
  • There are potentially hazardous amounts of floating debris, medical or infectious waste, toxic contaminants, petroleum products or other contamination on the beach, or there is evidence of sewage and wastewater discharge in sufficient quantities that will adversely affect the quality of the beach water.
  • Any other environmental factors exist which DOHMH determines to be a public health or safety hazard.

Water Quality Testing

Using EPA standards, DOHMH tests beach water for the presence of enterococci bacteria. These microscopic organisms are commonly found in the feces of humans and other warm-blooded animals. The presence of enterococci in water is an indication of fecal pollution and the possible presence of enteric (intestinal) pathogens, which may cause illness.

For regularly updated information on beach closures and advisories, go to the Beach Quality and Safety page at nyc.gov/health/beach, or call 311. For information on becoming a Lifeguard, go to the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation webpage at nyc.gov/parks.

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More information:
For regularly updated information on beach closures and advisories